Investigative Reporter Craig R. McCoy Honored With I.F. Stone Medal Craig R. McCoy, who has exposed injustice and corruption during almost three decades as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer; is the 2010 recipient of the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence. Established in 2008, the I.F. Stone Medal honors the life of investigative journalist I.F. Stone. The award, administered by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard and its Nieman Watchdog Project, is presented annually to a journalist whose work captures the spirit of independence, integrity and courage that characterized I.F. Stone’s Weekly, published from 1953 to 1971. During his acceptance speech at the award ceremony in Boston in October, McCoy noted that he and his father had been faithful readers of I.F. Stone’s Weekly. “Still today, I recall vividly my amazement at the powerful information he [Stone] would pull out of Congressional reports and other documents,” he said.
McCoy remembered, too, a talk by Stone at a synagogue in Philadelphia that he and his father attended. The audience was angry about Stone’s writings concerning Israel. McCoy noted, “Izzy was courtly, persuasive—and he didn’t back down an inch.”
The same can be said of McCoy, according to the journalist who nominated him for the award. “There are several things about Craig that bring to mind I.F. Stone,” the nominator noted. “He is undaunted by a complex story. He has a strong sense of civic right and wrong. He is ingenious at penetrating the official fog. And he is very, very persistent … America would be a more just, less corrupt country if every city had a Craig McCoy. Unfortunately, such journalists are rare.”
A member of the newspaper’s investigative staff for the past 12 years, McCoy most recently headed a team that uncovered problems in Philadelphia’s criminal justice system, including abysmal conviction rates and a massive number of fugitives. Following publication of the team’s investigation, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a host of reforms.
From 2003 until 2009, McCoy repeatedly dug into the activities of one of Philadelphia’s most powerful politicians, state Senator Vincent J. Fumo, whose aides referred to McCoy as “the jerk.” In 2009, Fumo was found guilty on 137 counts of corruption and is now in federal prison.
McCoy also participated in investigations that documented how Philadelphia’s child-welfare agency had failed to protect a child who died of starvation and uncovered an arrangement in which the head of Philadelphia’s largest charity for historic preservation used his position to avoid taxes.
McCoy paid tribute to the editorial leadership at the Inquirer, his employer since 1982, for maintaining a commitment to investigative reporting in the face of financial pressures as the paper emerges from bankruptcy. Investigative reporting is, McCoy said, “expensive, time-consuming and fraught with legal risks and the possibility of reader and advertising backlash.”
The 2010 I.F. Stone Medal Selection Committee was chaired by journalist and author John R. (Rick) MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine. The committee also included Robert Kaiser, associate editor and senior correspondent for The Washington Post, and Patricia O’Brien, NF ’74, a journalist, novelist and author. The group made their selection from recommendations presented by distinguished journalists who, by design, remain anonymous and serve for just one year.
Simeon Booker received the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2010 Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement this past September. Booker, who was the first black reporter on the staff of The Washington Post, spent more than 50 years working for Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, during which he covered the civil rights movement. His stories about the Emmett Till murder in 1955 became a rallying point for the movement. In 1961, he joined the first contingent of Freedom Riders leaving Washington. After they were met with extreme violence in Birmingham, Alabama, Booker went to the home of a civil rights leader. When Attorney General Robert Kennedy called to check in with the leader, Booker told him what had happened. Kennedy arranged to have a plane take the riders to safety in New Orleans. “That,” Booker recalled in Ebony magazine in 1991, “was probably the best reporting I did in my journalism career—explaining to Kennedy what had happened.” Booker retired in 2007.
Wayne Whitt, retired managing editor of The (Nashville) Tennessean, died September 15th in Nashville. He was 86.
A graduate of the University of Alabama, he worked for United Press for 14 months before joining The Tennessean as a reporter in 1946. He cultivated sources from all walks of life. Among the many stories he covered were moonshine whiskey raids and the floor fight at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. As a columnist, he urged that county and city government be merged into a single metropolitan system, an idea that became a reality in 1963.
In 1976, Whitt was named managing editor, serving 13 years under John Seigenthaler, NF ’59, now chairman emeritus. “He knew the city and its politics better than any journalist,” Seigenthaler told The Tennessean. “He was one of the fairest yet toughest men I ever knew.”
Wallace Turner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, died September 18th in a hospital in Springfield, Oregon. He was 89.
Raised in Missouri, Turner earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri before moving to Oregon.
Turner and William G. Lambert, his colleague at The Oregonian, shared a Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting in 1957 for their exposé of vice and corruption by municipal and union leaders in Portland. The series led to investigations across the nation into organized crime; in 1957 Turner testified before a U.S. Senate committee about corruption.
He joined The New York Times in 1962 and worked there for 26 years, serving as bureau chief in San Francisco and Seattle. Among the stories he covered were the shootings of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk and the search in the Seattle area for the so-called Green River Killer.
Turner wrote extensively about the Mormon Church’s ban on ordaining black priests, which was rescinded in 1978. Turner’s obituary in The New York Times quoted Gene Roberts, NF ’62, who covered the civil rights movement for the Times, as saying, “Wally probably did more than any single person to change the Mormon policy on race.”
Turner was the author of two books, “Gamblers’ Money: The New Force in American Life,” published in 1965, and “The Mormon Establishment,” published the following year.
He is survived by his wife, Pearl, two daughters, and a granddaughter.
Lewis Nkosi, the First Black South African Nieman Fellow, Dies at 73 Lewis Nkosi, one of South Africa’s leading writers and the first black South African journalist to be a Nieman Fellow, died September 5th in Johannesburg after a long illness. He was 73.As a young journalist in the 1950’s, Nkosi was part of a new generation of blacks who exposed the injustices of apartheid. Writing in the legendary Drum magazine, Nkosi characterized his country’s racial policies as “terribly sick” and its citizens as “terrorized” by security police.His decision to accept a Nieman Fellowship in the Class of 1961 rested on a wrenching choice. The South African government would not give him a visa to come to Harvard unless he surrendered his citizenship. He decided it was worth it to escape apartheid and to study with journalists from around the world. He said later that “the pull of Harvard and the Nieman Foundation was such that I felt I had nothing to lose by coming to the United States.”Nkosi, who was orphaned as a boy, arrived in Cambridge at age 23, an especially young age for a Nieman Fellow. Recalling that time during a celebration in 2008 of the Nieman Foundation’s 70th anniversary, Nkosi said, “I needed a whole lot of mothers. I was very thin and the wives of the Niemans fed me and made an enormous effort to build me up.”
After his Nieman year, Nkosi established his journalistic credentials in the U.S. and in England. He taught at universities in both nations as well as in Zambia and Poland.
His 1986 debut novel “Mating Birds” was banned by the apartheid government and praised worldwide. Several critics compared its style and narrative structure to “The Stranger” by Albert Camus. During a discussion at the 70th anniversary celebration in 2008, Nkosi said the novel’s penetrating psychological analysis owed a lot to his education at Harvard and classes that introduced him to the works of William Faulkner, James Joyce, and D.H. Lawrence.
His other novels are “Underground People” and “Mandela’s Ego,” which was on the short list for the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2007. In addition to fiction, Nkosi wrote plays, including “We Can’t All Be Martin Luther King” and “The Rhythm of Violence,” as well as dozens of essays about African literature and politics published in a number of collections.
During a memorial service in Johannesburg on September 8th, Nkosi was remembered for his “laughter, naughtiness, and then, suddenly, depth.” His twin daughters, Louise and Joy, 39, recalled “wild jazz records as bedtime lullabies,” trying to teach their father to swim, and how he tried to teach them to speak isiZulu.
In addition to his two daughters, Nkosi is survived by his wife, Astrid Starck.
John Hughes discusses in his new book “Islamic Extremism and the War of Ideas: Lessons from Indonesia” what he has learned from his experience in public diplomacy and how the United States could do a better job promoting democracy. In the book, published this summer by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Hughes writes that “it is the war of ideas and words that will ultimately determine whether moderate Islam, with which the United States has no quarrel, will prevail over Islamic extremism, whose perversion of Islamic faith is the problem.”
His book draws on his years as a foreign correspondent in Indonesia. In 1967, Hughes won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his coverage of the 1965 coup attempt in Indonesia that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. A professor of international communications at Brigham Young University, Hughes writes a nationally syndicated column for The Christian Science Monitor. He spent 24 years at the Monitor, including six years as a correspondent in Africa and nine as the paper’s editor. During the Reagan administration, he directed the United States Information Agency’s Voice of America.
Jerome Aumente was a guest on New York public broadcaster WNET’s “The Open Mind” to discuss new media, citizen journalism, and the dangers faced by international journalists. He wrote in an e-mail that he would like to hear reactions from Niemans about “my suggestions on the program for creation of a Civilian Communication Corps similar to the CCCs of the 1930’s, only focused on the opportunities to train and support citizen journalism and tap into the talent pool of seasoned journalists, retired journalism educators, etc. as trainers/mentors.” His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
He will be at Vilnius University in Lithuania as a Fulbright specialist for the fall 2011 semester, and he has been invited to do programs in Mozambique, Thailand and Poland in upcoming years.
James N. Standard, the former executive editor of The Oklahoman, died October 12th at a hospital in Oklahoma City. He had been treated for cancer, according to the obituary in the newspaper where he worked for 35 years. He was 70.
A former Oklahoma Newsman of the Year, Standard began his newspaper career when he was in high school as a copy boy at the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock. He attended the University of Arkansas but before graduating left for a full-time job in Texas. At the age of 20, he was hired as an obituary writer by The Oklahoman and the afternoon Oklahoma City Times. During his reporting career, he covered police, courts and the statehouse. After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, he was sent to Dallas and found himself standing only a few feet from Jack Ruby when Ruby killed suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
In 1975 Standard was named managing editor of The Oklahoman and the Oklahoma City Times. After the two papers merged, he was named executive editor, a position he held for six years before becoming editorial page editor in 1990 and writing a weekly column called Jim Standard’s Oklahoma. After retiring in 1995, he began a career in the ministry.
He is survived by his wife, Jodie, three sons, three stepchildren, and three grandchildren.
Ronald Walker, a reporter and editor who worked in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico for much of his career, died on November 23rd in Florida. He was 76.
Having joined The Virgin Islands Daily News as a reporter in 1959, Walker was editor of the paper from 1976 to 1977. While living in Puerto Rico, he worked for The San Juan Star and eventually became the managing editor of that paper. He frequently wrote social and political commentary as well as stories on international travel for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other newspapers in the U.S.
“He never masked his courage in the face of adversity, and his pen was mightier than his sword,” said longtime friend Clive Banfield in an obituary posted on the St. Thomas Source website. “He earned his reputation as a gifted writer.”
“More than anyone else in the class, Ron worked at keeping all of us—not just the Washington contingent—in touch with each other, an increasingly difficult task as the years rolled on and people moved about,” said classmate Dan Rapoport.
Walker is survived by his wife, Diane, and two sons.
John Carroll will receive the 2011 William Allen White Foundation’s national citation from the University of Kansas in February. The university’s William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communication has presented the award annually since 1950 to honor outstanding journalistic service.
During a career that began in the early 1960’s when he was a reporter at the Providence (R.I.) Journal, Carroll has been editor of The (Baltimore) Sun, the Lexington Herald-Leader, and the Los Angeles Times, which received 13 Pulitzer Prizes during his five-year tenure.
In e-mail correspondence with Nieman Reports, Carroll wrote, “Word of the award came out of the blue, and I was thrilled. It feels good to be recognized, of course, and it’s given me occasion to marvel at the work of William Allen White. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.”
Jose Antonio Martinez-Soler stepped down on October 1st as CEO of 20 Minutos, the publication he founded in 1999 that is now the most widely read newspaper in Spain. He will continue to serve on the board of the company, which is owned by Norwegian publisher Schibsted.
In his long career as a journalist, Martinez-Soler frequently challenged government authority and was often rebuked for his words. In 1976, he was kidnapped and tortured after writing an article critical of the Civil Guard. Twenty years later, he was fired from his position as New York bureau chief for the Spanish state television network by a newly elected prime minister who was still displeased over a question he had asked while covering him on the campaign trail.
“I also have been a journalist both in the Franco dictatorship and in democracy, before founding newspapers and companies, and I assure you that I truly appreciate how much freedom of expression is worth,” Martinez-Soler said in his farewell speech, delivered to the Schibsted media directors at a meeting in Estonia. “For freedom, like oxygen, is most valued when it is lacking.”
Jan Collins’s book “Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Planning for the Best Half of Your Life” (Quill Driver Books) won a 2010 Merit Prize in the National Mature Media Awards, an awards program for books, magazines, marketing and educational materials for older Americans. Coauthored with attorney Jan Warner, the book helps readers develop a detailed plan—and the necessary documents—for successful aging and retirement.
Robert Cox has been made “an Illustrious Citizen of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires,” in recognition of his role as editor of the English-language Buenos Aires Herald in the 1970’s. Faced with government censorship, Cox was one of the few editors willing to report on the new military dictatorship and “the disappeared”—the thousands of people, mainly young men, who were kidnapped and killed in death camps. The government briefly imprisoned Cox and he was forced to flee Argentina in 1979.
In an interview with his former paper, Cox said that, despite the threats, he always wanted to return to Buenos Aires during his exile. “I wanted to tell the world what was happening in Argentina and continue to do what the Herald was doing—saving lives,” he said. “The Herald, this newspaper, saved lives. When you are doing all these things you are not thinking about the consequences or even the effects of what you are doing. You just do what you think is right to do.” He is now writing a weekly column for his old newspaper, picking up where he left off 30 years ago.
William Marimow, editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer since 2006, returned to the reporting ranks this fall to focus on investigative stories.
“There’s a purity about working on a good story—and an exhilaration, too,” Marimow wrote in an e-mail about the new position. “Being in the reporting ranks, once again, is a reminder that unearthing stories that require scrutiny is the essence of our work.”
Marimow, who joined the Inquirer staff in 1972, won two Pulitzer prizes as a reporter—the first for Public Service in 1978 and then for Investigative Reporting in 1985. .
Ivor Wilkins is the author of “Classic: The Revival of Classic Boating in New Zealand,” which was released in October by Random House New Zealand. The book, illustrated with historic photographs as well as contemporary shots by Wilkins, highlights the restoration of classic yachts and the people who sail them.
Gustavo Gorriti was honored by the Ibero-American New Journalism Foundation (FNPI) with the CEMEX+FNPI New Journalism Prize in recognition of his outstanding career as an investigative journalist. In a statement, FNPI praised the Peruvian journalist for “boldly tackling difficult cases of coverage, such as those relating to authoritarianism, corruption, drug dealing and conflicts” that have affected Peru.
Gorriti was forced to leave his country after being detained by the government in 1992. He moved to the United States and then to Panama where he became the deputy director of La Prensa. He has written extensively about the Shining Path guerrilla group in Peru. A former president of the Press and Society Institute, Gorriti is also the founder and director of IDL-Reporteros, a nonprofit investigative journalism team.
Marites Dañguilan Vitug faced a host of challenges in getting her book, “Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court,” published and distributed. She often tells that story when she gives talks to various groups because it illuminates so well what is happening with independent publishing in the Philippines. At the last minute, the original publisher and distributor refused to move forward with the book because it criticizes the court. In addition, the nation’s leading bookstore chain refused to carry the book. One of the justices, Presbitero Velasco, Jr., sued her for libel on the eve of the book’s release.
“Shadow of Doubt” was published by Newsbreak, the online news and current affairs magazine. Vitug, who was the magazine’s editor in chief, is now chairwoman of its advisory board. She writes that, during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, loyalty to the appointing power became more important than merit in the president’s selection of justices for the Supreme Court.
Alfred A. Yuson, in his review in the Philippine Star, described the book as one of the “tipping points in our national narrative brought about by heady journalism.” He added, “It had to take [Vitug], a veteran of investigative reportage, whose credibility as a journalist is beyond question, to pry open the curtains veiling a sanctum sanctorum.”
During remarks when the book was launched in March, Vitug said, “If there is any sadness I feel, it’s a tiny core of profound sadness that, in our society, we seem not to understand the meaning of independence, the value of research, and the role of journalists. There is such a thing as heeding the call of our profession—to shed light on dark corners.”
Eugene Robinson’s new book is “Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America” published in October by Doubleday. It examines what he has identified as four distinct segments of the black community, from the “Transcendent” class of wealthy blacks to the “Abandoned” class trapped in poverty. What this segmentation has done, Robinson argues, is minimize the influence and unity of blacks as a group.
“There was a time when there were agreed-upon ‘black leaders,’ when there was a clear ‘black agenda,’ when we could talk confidently about ‘the state of black America’—but not anymore,” he writes in the book’s opening chapter. “With implications both hopeful and dispiriting, black America has undergone a process of disintegration.”
Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist, is also the author of “Coal to Cream: A Black Man’s Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race” and “Last Dance in Havana: The Final Days of Fidel and the Start of the New Cuban Revolution.”
Ying Chan wrote the introduction to “Investigative Journalism in China: Eight Cases of Chinese Watchdog Journalism,” published in April by Hong Kong University Press. The book tells the stories behind some of the most intensive investigations undertaken by Chinese media. They include the case of a peasant woman left disfigured by local officials and her husband’s family, the acceptance of bribes by journalists at the state-run news agency, and the government’s cover-up of SARS. In addition to introducing the case studies, Chan, the director of the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Center, provides a succinct history of journalism under Communist Party rule and details some of the repercussions reporters have faced for reporting the truth.
Fondly Remembering Françoise Lazare, a Journalist for Le Monde Since 1988
By Thierry Cruvellier
Françoise Lazare, NF ’98, died on October 15th in Paris, France, after battling a brain tumor discovered during her Nieman year. She was 45.
She had been a reporter with the French daily newspaper Le Monde since 1988. One of her colleagues at Le Monde said Lazare was wearing her Nieman class T-shirt the day before she passed away at the hospital.
Lazare’s first article in Le Monde appeared when she was working as an intern at The Wall Street Journal in New York in 1987. At 22, she was already writing about the collapse of U.S. investment banks. “A passion for news, the quest for information, a taste for faraway places, her independence of mind, devastating wit, and strong character were the engine of what should have been a beautiful course, a successful personal life, and a brilliant journalistic career,” wrote her colleagues at Le Monde in her obituary.
In September 1993 a truck crashed into her car while she was on vacation with a journalist friend in New Iberia, Louisiana. Her friend died at the scene and Lazare spent a week in a coma. A year later, she returned to work, and a few years after that, the tumor appeared.
Lazare graduated from the prestigious Institute of Political Sciences in Paris before studying at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. It was there that her passion for journalism was born. After six years working for the business section at Le Monde, she joined the foreign affairs desk for three years. This is when “she wrote her best reports, for instance foreseeing before all her colleagues the collapse of the Albanian regime due to the ‘pyramid scheme,’ or co-writing a memorable profile of ‘George Soros, a speculator and a philanthropist,’” the obituary in Le Monde stated.
While fighting the brain tumor, Lazare reported on lifestyle issues, “without ever giving up on what she regularly demanded: the right to ‘live normally,’” her newspaper colleagues wrote. She sailed for a month on a boat-hospital on the Amazon River and traveled deep below the earth’s surface to report on copper mines in Chile.
Since 2009, she had written for Le Monde’s literary section, where she shared her love of foreign literature, including Korean and Albanian authors. She was still working a few days before she died, her newspaper colleagues wrote.
“Aside from her unceasing journalistic activity and a few other passions—like painting—Françoise felt a pressing need to gather her numerous friends regularly,” her obituary stated. “All those who got to know and like her, or who simply came across her, will keep the memory of an excellent journalist and a strong personality, a charming woman, warm and always curious, who never—never—stopped loving life.”
Thierry Cruvellier is a 2004 Nieman Fellow.
Chris Hedges argues in his new book “Death of the Liberal Class,” published in October by Nation Books, that the press, the universities, the labor movement, the Democratic Party, and other pillars of the liberal class no longer serve as effective counterweights to the corporate state. This leaves the poor, the working class, and even the middle class without an effective champion. Hedges, a former foreign correspondent for The New York Times, looks at Tsarist Russia, Weimar Germany, and the former Yugoslavia to offer a historical context to his analysis of what has happened in the United States. He is a columnist for Truthdig and a fellow of The Nation Institute.
Deborah Schoch is a senior writer at the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting, which recently launched a new website to showcase its reporting projects. The nonprofit center, funded by a grant from the California HealthCare Foundation and based at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, partners with newspapers throughout the state to provide coverage of California health policy issues. In its first two years the center has produced 18 projects and almost 200 articles with 31 newspapers in the state. Schoch wrote that she is “convinced it offers a solid new model for journalism around the globe.”
Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe’s new theater critic, wrote an e-mail about his new assignment: “Taking over as the Globe’s theater critic feels like I’ve come full circle in a couple of ways. When I was a 10-year-old kid in Ashland, Massachusetts, I worked as a paperboy, delivering the Globe. As I walked from house to house, I would usually have my nose buried in the paper, often because I was reading Kevin Kelly, the Globe’s superb theater critic. I learned a lot about writing and theater from reading Kevin.
“When I got to the Globe in the late 1980’s, my first job was on the night copy desk. But on my nights off, I often reviewed plays for the paper, usually of productions at smaller theaters or of shows Kevin wasn’t able to fit into his schedule. Our paths seldom crossed, and on the rare occasions they did I never got around to telling him how much of an influence he had on me, which I regret. (He died in 1994.)”
After stints covering politics and then TV, Aucoin was a feature writer for nearly a decade before his latest assignment. “Now that I’m reviewing theater full time,” he wrote, “I’m struck by how much stronger—and bigger—the Boston theater scene is than it was in the 1980’s. And I sometimes wonder if there’s a 10-year-old kid out there reading my reviews and maybe developing an interest in theater or writing or both. Hope so.”
David J. Lynch sent an update about his job change: “I am now a senior writer for Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C., working as part of the economics team. I’ll be writing about the intersection of politics and economics for the news wire and [Bloomberg] Businessweek magazine, and I’ll be making occasional appearances on Bloomberg Television.
“I had a great 16-year run at USA Today [USAT] and was fortunate to have some really life-changing experiences. I spent about half my time overseas, opening bureaus in London and Beijing. I covered wars, financial crises, natural disasters, and just plain old good stories in more than 50 countries. …
“But the financial crisis took its toll on USAT. I lost three weeks of pay to involuntary furloughs in 2009 and when Gannett, despite being consistently profitable throughout the crisis, dipped into my pocket for an additional week of pay this year, I said ‘enough.’
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I started my job search. But fortunately, it turned out that there is a market for middle-aged financial writers. Joining Bloomberg seemed like a terrific opportunity to be part of a young organization that is clearly on the upswing—as USA Today once was.
“As for the more important part of my life, my wife Kathy continues freelancing and working as a ghostwriter. And our sons—Jack, 14, Patrick, 11, and Declan, 9,—keep us busy and entertained.
“Also, along with starting my new job, I put out a new book in November. It’s called ‘When the Luck of the Irish Ran Out’ (Palgrave Macmillan) and it tells the story of how Ireland over the past quarter century went from rags to riches, and halfway back again …”
Frank Langfitt moved from his job as an NPR business correspondent in Washington, D.C. to cover East Africa for NPR. He is filling in for current Nieman Fellow Gwen Thompkins. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Langfitt is focusing on nine countries, including Sudan and Somalia.
He sent an e-mail in October about his new assignment: “So far, very interesting job. First trip was four days in Mogadishu, stark, fascinating and a little harrowing.
“Julie and the kids are having lots of fun. Julie gets to be a full-time mom for a change. Our neighbors include five Kenyan kids roughly the same age as Katie, 9, and Christopher, 6. They play games in the yard and converge on one house every Friday for movie night, which usually features pizza, ice cream, and the Disney Channel. On the weekends, we take our Toyota station wagon on self-driven safaris out of town.
“I am off to Egypt with the family right now for a break before what I imagine will be a long, hard slog in Sudan in advance of a referendum on secession that could spark a renewed civil war.”
Henry Jeffreys has assumed the editorship of The New Age, a national English-language daily newspaper based near Johannesburg, South Africa.
Jeffreys was previously the editor of the Cape Town-based Afrikaans-language Die Burger. He left this position earlier in the year. While he was in between newspapers, he worked in the development field, serving as executive director of the boards of the Urban Foundation and the National Business Initiative.
Jeffreys struck an optimistic tone in the announcement of his hiring: “I am very passionate about the journalistic media. It is a cornerstone of our constitutional democracy and a custodian of the right to freedom of speech—in my view the most basic and important of entrenched rights we enjoy as citizens. It gives a voice to millions of citizens who are often ignored by the influential and powerful elites.”
He is a former deputy and political editor of the Johannesburg daily Beeld, where he started his career in the 1980’s.”
Eliza Griswold’s book “The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam” was published in August by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. The tenth parallel is the line of latitude 700 miles to the north of the equator. More than half of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims and 60 percent of its two billion Christians live within that region. During the course of Griswold’s travels in Asia and Africa over a period of seven years, she concluded that the major force shaping the future of the world’s religions is what’s happening inside Christianity and Islam, not between them.
Cameron McWhirter left his job as an enterprise and watchdog reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he had held since 2003 when, in September, he joined the Atlanta bureau of The Wall Street Journal. He is now a staff writer and is covering politics and breaking news across the South.
James Scott received the 2010 Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Excellence in Naval Literature for his book “The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel’s Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship,” published in 2009 by Simon & Schuster.
The book explores the Israeli attack on the spy ship U.S.S. Liberty that killed 34 Americans and injured 171 others, an attack that remains highly controversial 43 years later. Scott attended the awards dinner in New York City on November 1st with his father, John, a damage control engineer on the Liberty who was awarded the Silver Star for his efforts to prevent the ship from sinking.
Margie Mason was among the winners of the 2010 Science in Society Journalism Awards sponsored by the National Association of Science Writers. Mason and Martha Mendoza, who are reporters for The Associated Press, collaborated on the five-part series “When Drugs Stop Working.” It tied in the science reporting category with Charles Duhigg’s “Toxic Water” series in The New York Times.
Mason and Mendoza, who visited four continents to research the startling growth in drug-resistant infectious diseases, were the first to report a U.S. case of extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis. “Well constructed, easy to follow, and doesn’t beat you over the head with numbers” was how one judge characterized the series. Another singled out the “worldwide coverage, multiple sourcing, and overall story arc.”
In an e-mail, Mason, who worked on the project as a Global Health Fellow at the Nieman Foundation, wrote, “The stories ran on front pages around the country and we saw at least a dozen op-ed pieces. We had calls from members of Congress and regulatory agencies asking how to access all five parts. We know there’s legislation moving through Congress on the use of antibiotics in agriculture, and we’ve heard our series has been helpful.”
D. Parvaz has joined Al Jazeera English (AJE) as an online journalist working out of the network’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar. She was previously a columnist and editorial writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which shut down during her Nieman year, and a 2010 Wolfson Press fellow at the University of Cambridge. Parvaz reported on her new assignment in an e-mail: “Having previously worked in print and only dabbled in online work, I was excited about getting into the Web side of things at an intriguing international network. … My job is engaging, challenging and fun. I get to report stories, do analysis pieces, and write profiles, all while learning all there is to know about Web producing—something all reporters should know more about because learning how stories are packaged for the Web means crafting smarter pieces for Web readers. The newsroom itself, which combines TV and Web operations, has a truly amazing mix of people with a strong sense of camaraderie. …
“The Europe-to-Gulf-state move would make a fascinating case study for anyone who has never made a major geographic and/or cultural transition. Yes, it’s hot, and boy is it different. But then, different was what I was hoping for in choosing to work here. … It is, in some ways, a rather conservative place, and yet, I’ve never been in a city where people are so open to hearing new ideas.
“So, fellow Nieman alumni, should you find yourselves in Doha, drop me a line. I can take you to the Iranian Souq with the best Persian food this side of the Gulf, show you the buzzing hive that is the AJE newsroom and who knows, maybe we can talk each other into renting some dune buggies and hitting the sands.”
Janet Heard is assistant editor, head of news, at the Cape Times in Capetown, South Africa. Prior to mid-August when she started her new job, she had been executive editor of the Weekend Argus, also published by Independent Newspapers. She wrote in an e-mail, “My brief is to also help build online and social media synergies in the newsroom and to assist with the bigger picture, training and mentoring reporters and special assignments and investigations. I also hope to continue my blog, get involved in broader journalism issues in South Africa, and to write as much as possible.”
Gary Knight will be the director of the Program for Narrative and Documentary Studies being established in January 2011 at Tufts University’s Institute for Global Leadership. Students will learn the history and principles of documentary work and engage in fieldwork, creating visual, audio and written essays and histories. These projects will be published on the program’s website and in the media and will be housed in an archive available to scholars and the public. Students will have the opportunity to learn from working journalists, scientists, aid workers, anthropologists, politicians and other non-academics throughout the year.
In addition to Knight, who will be teaching the primary seminar and workshop, several Nieman fellows serve on the program’s advisory board: Rodney Nordland, NF ’89, Terri Lichstein, NF ’97, Charles Sennott, NF ’06, and Hopewell Rugoho-Chin’ono, NF ’10.
Hopewell Rugoho-Chin’ono was a finalist in the features category for a Rory Peck Award for his documentary film “A Violent Response,” about the post-election violence and human rights abuses that occurred in 2008 in Zimbabwe. Most of the film was shot undercover after the government barred him from reporting on the election and called him a “state security risk.”
One of the judges said, “We have to applaud Hopewell for working in Zimbabwe during that period, when it was so difficult and so dangerous and very few people were able to get any pictures out at all.” The annual award honoring freelance camerawork in news and current affairs feature films is sponsored by the Rory Peck Trust, an organization that provides help to freelance newsgatherers and their families worldwide.
Hollman Morris is the recipient of the 2011 Nuremburg International Human Rights Award. As a documentarian and television journalist, Morris has frequently covered the violence and corruption in Colombia on his program “Contravía.” In awarding the prize, the jury wrote that Morris “has made visible the victims of the horrible armed conflict prevailing in his native country Colombia, and in his TV programs has given them a voice. In addition, some of his journalistic research has stopped impunity for horrific violations of human rights. Investigators, judges and prosecutors have used his work as evidence. He has paid a high price for his perseverance in reporting on human rights violations.”